Saturday, July 29, 2006

My poor, starving blog!

` I know, I've been been as cold and uncaring to this blog as I am to some of my subjects, and for what? Well, there's been this, that, the other thing, extensive compensating, weirdening, and so forth. But that's no exuse.
` I have also been working on another Noci-Notes for some time, I just keep getting interrupted or am absorbed in other tasks during the times that I'm pushing MAL's buttons.
` For now, why don't you enjoy some rich, juicy material from other people's blogs, both of them about stem cell research, which I have recently read and thought to be both amusing and, in a sense, level-headed.
` This first one is from the Huffington Post (emphasis mine):

Okay, the veto was days ago and I'm a bit slow on the uptake here. But when you have Parkinson's disease, what the press insists on referring to as a "degenerative," "debilitating," "dreaded" illness, you don't like to be tooting a self-serving horn. And who wants to be a what Frank Rich facetiously described as a "pagan narcissist" hopeful for a cure.

But, I just need to ask the following:

How is it that an embryo cannot be used for research because it is human life and yet it can be discarded? How can President Bush say, on the one hand, that embryos are all potential "snowflake babies" if he is, on the other hand, unwilling to prevent their demise? If an embryo is human life, shouldn't we cease current stem cell research? After all, is an older embryo or one in a specific "line" less of a "person" in waiting than a newer or lucky line embryo? Is an already condemned embryo less deserving of being saved? And, if indeed these little clusters of cells are infinitesimally small human beings, then why are people allowed to create them unless they are willing to use ALL of them?

And what's all this tripe about trading one life for another? I don't know anyone with PD, MS, cancer or any disease for that matter who wants to sacrifice a life to prolong his or her own. No thank you. I wouldn't mind a few honest answers, though. If the real reason to block stem cell research is to keep science and medicine from running amuck, then why don't we work on finding a solution to that problem? And I just want to be sure that if the President or someone close to him ever needs stem cells to save his or her life that he's going to refuse. Do you think that's likely? I mean, surely it won't be an issue of who can afford to pay private organizations for treatment. Right? Nah. That's just being cynical. Right?

New website that might help a few people while we wait.
` Ha ha.... Indeed. If we make embryos, many of which are destined to be destroyed, then why can't we collect the stem cells before they go into the incinerator? Hello? How is that better?
` It's not like American stem cell researchers can continue very well with the ten or so stem cell lines in existence. Yes, I know that Bush said there were sixty of them, but that's because he doesn't distinguish between the number of times a cell line has been attempted and the number of successful attempts. So, of the sixty attempts, most are useless.
` Then again, I think Bush might be cutting Federal Funding in order to gain approval of the Religious Right - it's not like he's banned it altogether. Even without it, there is still a good deal of stem cell research being done in California. Thank goodness for that.
` Well, to top off this article, I also found another one I thought was both funnier and angrier. (Emphasis also mine.)
...According to [Bush and his followers], a human being can be anything from a full grown man or woman strapped into an electric chair, doused with water, a blind fold over their eyes with a leather strap in their mouth, to a group of cells inside of a Petri dish to everything in between.
` Today Dubya publicly condemned stem cell research advances recently made in South Korea, saying that he is worried about “living in a world in which human cloning was condoned”.
` For those of you completely out of the loop, the South Koreans have developed a way to take DNA from a human being, inject it in a specially created human egg that then develops into an embryo that is genetically identical to the patient. They then remove the stem cells from the three-day old embryo and in the process the embryo is destroyed.
` [However, I vaguely remember several Nature headlines saying that this was some kind of hoax for funding or something, and the guy who was responsible was severely punished. Nevertheless, such cloned embryos would probably be defective and would probably die before developing into a fetus, and so their only outcome could be destruction.]
` The upside of this is that from those stem cells could be the cure to a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
` The downside is…well nothing.

...What I find interesting is that conservatives say that if blinding a few thousand rabbits will help someone build a creamier, shiner shampoo, then go right ahead blind away, but if destroying a three-day old embryo will help repair someone’s body after a stroke, repair nerves in someone’s damaged spine, cure Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or even help the blind to see, then that is too high of a price to pay.
` What price?
` If all we are talking about is destroying a three-day old embryo that was made from my own skin cells, I don’t even consider that a price to pay.
` That is free.
` Save the rabbits. We are blinding them to make a better toothpaste. You can scrape the skin off my knees until they bleed if that is what it takes to not end up like my grandfather, bedridden, curled up in the fetal position, trapped inside of this trembling shell that we call a body from 20 years of battling Parkinson’s disease.

...We don’t freak out when someone has identical twins do we? They have identical DNA.
` I think deep down this is about a Jesus Freak being threatened by the fact that science has taken away yet another thing that he said that only God was capable of doing.
` Listen people, this isn’t about cloning human beings; this is about removing the stem cells to heal the sick, removing the stem cells destroys the embryo.

...I was under the impression from the pro-life movement that a fetus was a human being because it had to have eyes and ears and teeth and could kick its feet.
` Now a human being is also a cell floating around in a shallow circular dish with a loose-fitting cover, used to culture bacteria or other microorganisms?

...I would also like to find a pastor somewhere that is brave enough to stand up and tell me that stuff in the Petri dish has a soul[.]
` That is it an innocent life?
` It isn’t even sentient[!] How could it be? It doesn’t even have a brain. ...It isn’t even a thing. It’s an it.
` At that stage it isn’t anymore human than it is goat, gorilla, or elephant. It is a collection of divided cells. [With human DNA, though, rather than goat, gorilla or elephant. Formless, nonetheless.]
` And I knew Dubya would come out and condemn this, but I bet Dubya can’t even define human being.
` My guess would be that just like porn, “he can’t define it, he just knows it when he sees it.”
` I can’t wait until the Heritage Foundation or some other conservative think tank starts to call for women who have miscarriages days after conception to be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
` Involuntary manslaughter usually refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence and since conservatives love playing on slippery slopes, let’s go there with them.
` Let’s assume that eventually they are going to argue that once you have sex, you should stop drinking, smoking, exercising, eating fast foods, holding your breath or whatever it was that you did that might make you pass that “human being” into the toilet.
` That would be criminally negligent. [Yes! Ha ha haaaaaa!]
` The beautiful thing about all of this is that as soon as a conservative comes down with a disease that can be cured with stem cell research, their hypocrisy blossoms like a full grown butterfly, suddenly they see the error of their ways and they’re shamelessly all for it.
` You don’t need to look any further than Nancy Reagan. When Ronnie was alive and had all of his senses, he would have been against Stem Cell research too. Then as soon as he started to forget how to wipe his own ass, he would’ve been all about it like Nancy is now.
` Suddenly there is no controversy over whether or not what is in that Petri dish is a human life or not because once faced with the reality of disease the only life a conservative is thinking about at that point is their own.
` And like nearly everything else, 50 years from now, once they catch up to the rest of us and stem cells are just an everyday part of modern medicine, they will be accepting the treatments without guilt and these questions around the morality of all of this would be just another part of the history books that they will be campaigning the school boards to get removed.
` Hee hee! Just makes me wish I was already in the future to see that happening. Sigh.... I'm sure that in the future, if you need a new organ, there will be a technique to use one's own cells to grow a new one! Unlike a transplant, there would be little chance of its being rejected because it was grown from your own body, not someone else's! In fact, something like this is already being done with bladders.
` But, oh! If growing or cloning your own organs involves embryos, what would today's anti-stem-cell people think? "No! Don't make little Susie another heart of her own! Just wait until little Johnny dies, and hopefully she'll still be alive...."
` Who knows what will happen? All I'm sure of is that some good will come from it. And, perhaps, an evil army may also wind up being cloned like in Star Wars Episode II. You never know.


NYC Taxi Shots said...


S E E Quine said...

` Please, Taxi photographer, curb your enthusiasm!!

Galtron said...

No, I think robots would be better to fight our wars instead of humans... Human clones should be used as slaves!

S E E Quine said...

` Brilliant! That makes the most sense because human slaves are best able to interpret what someone wants them to do!

Aaron said...

Aren't we all glad we're not the real leaders in our society and are not forced to make extremely contraversial decisions every day that impact millions of people. I sleep better at night knowing that my decisions, for the most part, are pretty well benign to others.

I think rather than ridicule people for taking a stand we should respect the fact that they believe strongly in something, for whatever reason. At that point, the respectful thing to do is to disagree politely, not make personal attacks.

Spoony, you know that it's not just Bush that has taken that stance on stem cell research. He's only representing his consituents.

Aaron said...

Congratulations on your hit counter reaching 1500!

S E E Quine said...

` Oh, my hit counter! Thanks! I wouldn't have noticed!

` I know that it's not only Bush who is making the decisions - which partly scares me. For example, about half the reason for our current Iraq occupation is to make more money for Mr. Artillery Himself, Donny Rumsfeld.
` Bush probably does not need a reasoning center transplant - just some supplementary spine and maybe a little more conscience.

` I guess that being in control is always hazardous because there are people who will rail against your decisions - whether they are right or wrong or neither of those.
` It's just that I do not understand why an embryo being completely destroyed - stem cells and all - should be okay while at the same time destroying those same embryos for unbelievably promising medical research is significantly different enough to be considered 'immoral'.
` Give me a break!
` What I think is happening is that Bush wants to make decisions about how he spends our money, and this whole 'morals and ethics' thing is but one way to get the Religious Right on his side.
` How can anyone respect that?

` Bush said:

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it."

` Bit Sir, those embryos were never going to be human lives! Clusters of a hundred cells don't constitute a 'human life' any more than a cluster of cells from my fingertip, so how could we be taking them to begin with?
` Also, what about all those women and children who keep being killed because of you? Their lives were taken. So, were they not innocent or were they just not human?
` And, Sir, I will respect your opinions either way, but I simply must ask: Do you believe so strongly in corporal punishment that you are willing to let people be taken to other countries to be tortured? Why don't you just make it legal here?

` Oh, sorry, I guess I should be more polite: Who knows what's going through his head? Maybe he has no strong beliefs: Maybe he's just thinking about all those hands up his ass or something?

` Still, embryonic stem cell research cannot continue without more stem lines than we already have. Even thirty in total would be nice.
` Unlike other stem cells (that we know of) embryonic stem cells have the potential to become anything a stem cell therapist could need to reverse so many diseases - neural tissue, heart tissue, anything!
` But this is only a small reason why our 'decent society' is so rude to Bush. You know he's always thinking of his friends and would put them first, before you and me, before his soldiers, before Iraqi civilians.
` So many of us are sick of his lack of ethics in general and would very much like it if he would go off and impeach himself. (I don't think anyone else is going to!)
` According to the Harris polls, 71% of Americans do not approve of Bush Jr., up from 17% from the 2001 average. Also, 69% think that our country is going down the toilet.
` Well, it certainly appears to be! Since when was the last time America has been in such discord? (In fact, since when was the last time any president has gotten such rotten approval ratings?)

` Really, I think the reason people are so angry is because of everything Bush has done collectively to piss us off. We're so used to being irritated by him that is it any wonder that people are compulsively suppressing their politeness toward him?

Amber said...

Bravo, Quine. Well spoken.

Amber said...

Here, thought you might enjoy this...

sound clips

Aaron said...

Spoony, I thought you were smarter than that. Do you really believe all the allegations you're making?

S E E Quine said...

` Um... no. But from what I can see....

Galtron said...

Ah! Ze reasoning of ze skeptic!

S E E Quine said...

` Indeed. I am not as quick as I seem to take sides.
` By the way, Amber, can't activate the sound clips. But I'm sure they're good.